DO I NEED TO REPLACE MY HELMET AFTER I DROP IT

Everyday, motorcycle riders drop their helmet on the ground. Everyone has heard that if you drop your helmet, you need a new one but is that true?





Everyone has heard that if you drop your motorcycle helmet, you must immediately buy a new one and throw the old one away. Everyone has heard it but is it necessary to throw away your $800 helmet over a two-foot drop to the ground? I emailed multiple helmet companies in the hope of finding out the truth. I got responses from three major helmet companies; for the most part, I got the same response from all of them.





I asked each helmet manufacturer the same questions. I emailed several other helmet manufacturers but never received a response. Here are the answers:


Shoei Helmets

1. Does it automatically mean I need to get a new helmet if I drop my helmet on the ground?

  • It depends on what the helmet fell on and if there are things inside of the helmet, which is a bad habit. In many cases, there will only be cosmetic damage, broken/scratched shields, vents, etc., but the helmet could have structural issues in other incidents.


2. Is there a certain distance from the ground that a helmet can drop before the helmet has to be thrown away?

  • No. Any drop could cause damage to the helmet.


3. If the helmet is dropped on the ground, will the company inspect it to ensure it is still in good condition?

  • Shoei offers a free inspection service of Shoei motorcycle helmets, including crash, impact, and general inspections. You can send your Shoei helmet to Shoei Safety Helmet Corp., Attention: Inspections, 3002 Dow Avenue Suite 320, Tustin, CA 92780. In the box, you need a note with your name, return physical address, daytime phone number, and the nature of the incident.

  • Once Shoei receives the helmet, they will inspect the exterior fiber composite shell and the interior polystyrene to see if the helmet has any issues. After the inspection, Shoei will mail the helmet back with paperwork detailing the inspection and repair findings. Shoei cannot ship helmets to PO Boxes, FPO, APO, etc.


4. Is there any way a rider can tell if the damage is more than cosmetic?

  • Shoei recommends sending the helmet in to be inspected because they know how to check, and it’s free to send it to Shoei.


HJC Helmets

1. Does it automatically mean I need to get a new helmet if I drop my helmet on the ground?

  • HJC recommends that anything above 4 feet be considered for replacement. If the drop is high enough and flexes the helmet's shell, it could compress the outside of the EPS, but the compression wouldn’t be visible because the helmet’s shell covers it.


2. Is there a certain distance from the ground that a helmet can drop before the helmet has to be thrown away?

  • Usually, anything above 4 feet.


3. If the helmet is dropped on the ground, will the company inspect it to ensure it is still in good condition?

  • No, HJC does not have the proper equipment to inspect the helmets. It would require HJC to send the helmet to South Korea for inspection.


4. Is there any way a rider can tell if the damage is more than cosmetic?

  • According to HJC, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if there is damage to the interior polystyrene that would require you to buy a new helmet.


Dainese Helmets

1. Does it automatically mean I need to get a new helmet if I drop my helmet on the ground?

  • Any impact to the helmet could cause the interior polystyrene to crack, which would mean you would need a helmet. If the helmet has any damage besides minor marks, you may need to inspect the helmet further. You can remove the interior pads from the helmet and look at the internal polystyrene. The helmet is no longer safe if you see any compression or visible cracking.


2. Is there a certain distance from the ground that a helmet can drop before the helmet has to be thrown away?

  • No.


3. If the helmet is dropped on the ground, will the company inspect it to ensure it is still in good condition?

  • Dainese can not confirm if a helmet is damaged just by sending photos. Even if they can get their hands on the helmet, it would be difficult to be 100% accurate since the interior polystyrene is attached to the shell.


4. Is there any way a rider can tell if the damage is more than cosmetic?

  • More than likely, no, because the interior polystyrene is attached to the outer shell.


All the helmet manufacturers gave me similar answers to each question. One of the manufacturers was willing to inspect the helmet for a rider for free. None of the manufacturers were ready to answer if a helmet drop would be ok at a certain distance from the ground. So, we talked to Snell to get their thought on helmet drops, and here is what Snell told us:


1. Does it automatically mean I need to get a new helmet if I drop my helmet on the ground?

  • The short answer to your question is “No.” Suppose a helmet occasionally drops off a table, bench, motorcycle handlebar, or the back seat of a motorcycle. In that case, the helmet protection should not be reduced, and you should not have to buy a new helmet. If the helmet was on the rider while the rider was standing still or walking and fell over and hit the helmet on the ground, then the helmet should be immediately replaced.


When it hits the ground, the head or any heavy object inside the helmet will compromise the helmet.


2. Is there a certain distance from the ground that a helmet can drop before the helmet has to be thrown away?

  • Based on conversations with Snell, an occasional drop from a motorcycle would not cause a safety problem for a helmet.


3. Is there any way a rider can tell if the damage is more than cosmetic?

  • It is difficult for a rider to determine if a helmet is damaged to the point that it needs to be replaced unless there is apparent damage on the outside. Snell recommends that you don’t buy used helmets for this reason. It would be best if you also did not buy a helmet online because of the inability to fit it before buying.





Snell tests motorcycle helmets to see if they can hold up to SNELL standards. SNELL believes that helmets would be acceptable if they were dropped occasionally, but if there is something heavy in the helmet, it is more likely to compress the liner. Once the helmet liner is compressed, the helmet needs to be replaced to ensure you get the best protection.


Anytime you buy a helmet, you don’t want to buy a used helmet or a helmet from the internet. If you buy a helmet off the internet, find a local motorcycle shop to test fit the helmet. The roll-off test is a great way to determine if a helmet fits properly. Go to your local motorcycle shop and find the helmet you want to try on. Put the helmet on, and make sure you tighten the chin strap. After putting the helmet on properly, reach back with one or both hands and grab the back of your helmet. Now pull up on the back of the helmet and try to take the helmet off. The helmet should move very little, if at all. If you can move the helmet a lot, or it comes off, you need to try a smaller or different type of helmet.


Maybe one day, a company would be willing to test different types of helmets to see if short drops from the motorcycle and people’s hands will damage the helmet. Everything I got from Snell and the motorcycle helmet manufacturers was educated guesses. The people that gave me responses were professionals and probably gave us a good answer, but there has not been a study done that I can find at this time. A study proving how well the helmets can hold up would make many riders feel more comfortable with the durability of a helmet after a minor drop.


If you’re unsure if your helmet should be replaced, it's always better to replace the helmet. You only get one head, and it's better to protect it versus worrying if you're going to survive a crash.




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